Scripture tells us that “to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NLT). Wow. We accept Him. He accepts us. Indeed, acceptance permeates all encounters with Jesus.
Chapter four of John describes one such encounter. The heat of the noonday sun blazed down on a Samaritan woman as she carried her water jar along the dirt road outside her village of Sychar. As she arrived at the well, she noticed Jesus sitting there. She did not know who He was, but she could tell that He was a Jewish man. While she prepared her vessel to draw from the well, Jesus asked her for a drink. This surprised her on many levels. First, Jews did not often even enter Samaria. John says, “Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans” (4:9). Additionally, in that culture men did not generally speak to women in public—the woman herself even points this out as she tells Jesus that He is a Jewish man and she is a Samaritan woman and asks Him, “Why are you asking me for a drink?” (4:9).
Let the lessons in acceptance begin.
Jesus responds, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water” (4:10). Ask me, and I will accept your request and give you life. That’s how it is with Jesus. He knows we have a need. He longs for us to accept His help, so that He can accept us.
Jesus invited the woman at the well to come and see for herself. He offered her the chance to accept living water. An invitation and a promise. Jesus then revealed to the woman that He knew all about her life; that she wasn’t married to the man with whom she was currently in relations and that she had had five husbands. Jesus knew everything. And He offered acceptance.
He knows everything about us, too. And He not only accepts us, He pursues us (see 4:23). He sees past the things that others might get caught up in and extends the invitation. We later read that the disciples were “shocked” to find Jesus talking to the woman (4:27). Not only did He talk to her, accept her, and invite her, He allowed her to be one of the first evangelists. A woman. A Samaritan woman.
In His encounter with this woman, Jesus calls out her past (a possibly painful or shameful thing), yet, curiously, she still wants to accept Him. Chuck Swindoll asserts, “She’s blown away. She looks deeply into this Jew’s eyes and senses that He’s not one of the haters. She can tell this not only by His voice, but also by His demeanor, His words, and His willingness to break the rules.”
Once she experienced this Jesus acceptance, the woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to her village to tell them about Jesus and implored them to “come and see” Him for themselves (4:28-29). And guess what? “Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’” (4:39). Outrageous! They accepted and believed!
Our testimonies about our encounters with Jesus can lead to others accepting Him. Like the Samaritan woman, we don’t have to have Jesus all figured out first. We don’t have to have a Master of Theology degree. We simply keep telling others about what Jesus has done/is doing in our lives. This gives me renewed perspective, hope, and encouragement regarding those loved ones I am longing for to accept Jesus in their lives. Anything is possible.
The Samaritans’ acceptance of Jesus led them to seek Him. Then they “begged Him to stay.” So He stayed. Because of this, even more people heard and believed (4:40-41). Their acceptance then solidified into them knowing and declaring that “He indeed is the Savior of the world” (4:42). Like a planted mustard seed, one’s initial acceptance of Jesus grows into a bigger and bigger thing. You invite Jesus in, He expands and deepens your faith and your reach.
John 3:33 says that “anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true.” Just like the Samaritans, when we accept His testimony, we then receive affirmation that God is true as He reveals more and more of Himself along our faith journey. Blessed assurance.
While I pondered the Samaritans’ encounter with Jesus, one of my favorite movies, Mary Poppins, came to mind as I thought, “All we have to do is accept—loosen our grasp of our tuppence.” I pictured young Michael Banks and his little clammy hand clutching his tuppence while he stands in the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank as his father and the bank president, Mr. Dawes, try to get him to give them his coins so that he can “invest [his] tuppence wisely in the bank.” Unlike Michael Banks, however, we do not have to be afraid to open our little clammy hands to accept the proposition before us. For God is not like a forceful Mr. Dawes looking to rip our tuppence out of our hands. God wants us to willingly open our hands to accept Him and His love. He doesn’t violate our freedom. God lets you give your heart to Him. He won’t leave you horrified and shouting, “Give it back! Give me back my money!” He will leave you dropping your water jar beside the well and running to your village to tell everyone about Him so that they, too, can come and see, accept and believe.
“Oh, You want me
Somehow You want me
The King of Heaven wants me…
God, You don’t need me
But somehow You want me
Oh, how You love me
Somehow that frees me
To open my hands up
And give You control
I give You control”
(From “Control” by Tenth Avenue North)
Destiny Teasley lives in Nevada, where she is a lover of the arts, pop culture, and travel (you'll often find her daydreaming about being in Israel or Disneyland). She delights in encountering beauty in the world and helping others to see and celebrate it for themselves. Destiny studied at Baylor, UNLV, Oxford, and Dallas Theological Seminary. You can find more of her writing at her blog,whentherockscryout.com .